School For Paralegal Studies Atascadero CA

How to Pick the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Atascadero California

Atascadero CA Paralegal doing legal researchCongratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Atascadero CA and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Atascadero residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Atascadero CA law libraryParalegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Atascadero CA lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities may include:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Researching pertinent laws and cases
  • Composing correspondence and legal papers
  • Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
  • Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
  • Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records

With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.

Paralegal Training and Certification

legal assistant meeting with Atascadero CA attorneyAs we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Atascadero CA is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession are:

  • National Federation of Paralegal Associations
  • American Alliance of Paralegals
  • National Association of Legal Assistants
  • National Association for Legal Professionals

By graduating with a paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.

Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs

Questions to ask Atascadero CA paralegal schoolsNow that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Atascadero CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Atascadero CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.

What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Atascadero CA law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Atascadero CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in California or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Atascadero CA area.

How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Atascadero CA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Atascadero CA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.

Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools

student attending online paralegal certificate program in Atascadero CAOnline legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.

 Attending a Paralegal School near Atascadero CA?

If you live near Atascadero California or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.

Atascadero, California

Atascadero (Obispeño: tsɨskikiye, "Place of much water" [11]) is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, about equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco on U.S. Route 101. Atascadero is part of the San Luis Obispo - Atascadero - Paso Robles metropolitan area. Atascadero is farther inland than most other cities in the county, and as a result, usually experiences warmer, drier summers, and cooler winters than other nearby cities such as San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. The main freeway through town is the US 101. The nearby State Routes 41 and 46 provide access to the Pacific Coast and the California Central Valley.

Atascadero is a Spanish word loosely translated as bog, from the verb "atascar" which means to become stuck or hindered. Also, in the Chumash language, Atascadero translates into a place of much water.

The area was originally home to the Salinan Indians. In the half century between 1769 and 1823 the Spanish Franciscans established 21 missions along the California coast, including the nearby Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and California became a Mexican province. In 1833, the Mexican government secularized the mission lands. Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado granted Rancho Atascadero to Trifon Garcia in 1842, and Pio Pico granted Pedro Estrada Rancho Asuncion in 1845. Patrick Washington Murphy held ownership of 61,000 acres (25,000 ha) at one time.

School For Paralegal Studies Atascadero CA

Selecting the ideal legal assistant certificate school is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about School For Paralegal Studies. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Atascadero home. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Atascadero CA.

Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest

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  • Accredited Online Paralegal Degree Programs Brentwood CA
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  • Online Paralegal Studies Programs South San Francisco CA
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